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Keyword: astronomy

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Mercury Transit Sequence

    05/03/2016 11:41:56 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Wednesday, May 04, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This coming Monday, Mercury will cross the face of the Sun, as seen from Earth. Called a transit, the last time this happened was in 2006. Because the plane of Mercury's orbit is not exactly coincident with the plane of Earth's orbit, Mercury usually appears to pass over or under the Sun. The above time-lapse sequence, superimposed on a single frame, was taken from a balcony in Belgium shows the entire transit of 2003 May 7. The solar crossing lasted over five hours, so that the above 23 images were taken roughly 15 minutes apart. The north pole of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Aurora over Sweden

    05/03/2016 12:44:34 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | Tuesday, May 03, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It was bright and green and stretched across the sky. This striking aurora display was captured last month just outside of Östersund, Sweden. Six photographic fields were merged to create the featured panorama spanning almost 180 degrees. Particularly striking aspects of this aurora include its sweeping arc-like shape and its stark definition. Lake Storsjön is seen in the foreground, while several familiar constellations and the star Polaris are visible through the aurora, far in the background. Coincidently, the aurora appears to avoid the Moon visible on the lower left. The aurora appeared a day after a large hole opened...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Crossing Mars

    05/03/2016 12:36:30 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | Monday, May 02, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Where is NASA's rover Curiosity going on Mars? Its geographical goals are on the slopes of Mount Sharp, whose peak is seen in the background on the right. A key scientific goal, however, remains to better assess when and where conditions on Mars were once suitable for life, in particular microbial life. To further this goal, Curiosity was directed to cross the rugged terrain of Nautkluft Plateau, visible in the featured image on the foreground left. Curiosity is crossing toward smoother uphill sites with rocks containing hematite and sulfates, sites that could give the rolling rover new clues on...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Contemplating the Sun

    05/03/2016 12:35:51 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | Sunday, May 01, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you contemplated your home star recently? Featured here, a Sun partially eclipsed on the top left by the Moon is also seen eclipsed by earthlings contemplating the eclipse below. The spectacular menagerie of silhouettes was taken in 2012 from the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area near Page, Arizona, USA, where park rangers and astronomers expounded on the unusual event to interested gatherers. Also faintly visible on the Sun's disk, just to the lower right of the dark Moon's disk, is a group of sunspots. Although a partial solar eclipse by the Moon is indeed a good chance to...
  • Scientists discover three 'potentially habitable' planets

    05/02/2016 10:19:44 AM PDT · by Phlap · 40 replies
    Yahoo ^ | 05/02/2016 | Marlowe Hood
    An international team of scientists said Monday they had discovered a trio of Earth-like planets that are the best bet so far for finding life outside our solar system. The three orbit an ultracool dwarf star a mere 39 light years away, and are likely comparable in size and temperature to Earth and Venus, they reported in a study, published in Nature.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Moon over Makemake

    04/30/2016 2:03:40 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | Saturday, April 30, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Makemake, second brightest dwarf planet of the Kuiper belt, has a moon. Nicknamed MK2, Makemake's moon reflects sunlight with a charcoal-dark surface, about 1,300 times fainter than its parent body. Still, it was spotted in Hubble Space Telescope observations intended to search for faint companions with the same technique used to find the small satellites of Pluto. Just as for Pluto and its satellites, further observations of Makemake and orbiting moon will measure the system's mass and density and allow a broader understanding of the distant worlds. About 160 kilometers (100 miles) across compared to Makemake's 1,400 kilometer diameter,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Fermi's Gamma-ray Moon

    04/29/2016 5:07:09 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | Friday, April 29, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: If you could only see gamma-rays, photons with up to a billion or more times the energy of visible light, the Moon would be brighter than the Sun! That startling notion underlies this novel image of the Moon, based on data collected by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope's Large Area Telescope (LAT) instrument during its first seven years of operation (2008-2015). Fermi's gamma-ray vision doesn't distinguish details on the lunar surface, but a gamma-ray glow consistent with the Moon's size and position is clearly found at the center of the false color map. The brightest pixels correspond to the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Dust Angel Nebula

    04/28/2016 4:21:53 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Thursday, April 28, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The combined light of stars along the Milky Way are reflected by these cosmic dust clouds that soar some 300 light-years or so above the plane of our galaxy. Dubbed the Angel Nebula, the faint apparition is part of an expansive complex of dim and relatively unexplored, diffuse molecular clouds. Commonly found at high galactic latitudes, the dusty galactic cirrus can be traced over large regions toward the North and South Galactic poles. Along with the refection of starlight, studies indicate the dust clouds produce a faint reddish luminescence, as interstellar dust grains convert invisible ultraviolet radiation to visible...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Omega Centauri: The Brightest Globular Star Cluster

    04/27/2016 4:48:35 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | Wednesday, April 27, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This huge ball of stars predates our Sun. Long before humankind evolved, before dinosaurs roamed, and even before our Earth existed, ancient globs of stars condensed and orbited a young Milky Way Galaxy. Of the 200 or so globular clusters that survive today, Omega Centauri is the largest, containing over ten million stars. Omega Centauri is also the brightest globular cluster, at apparent visual magnitude 3.9 it is visible to southern observers with the unaided eye. Cataloged as NGC 5139, Omega Centauri is about 18,000 light-years away and 150 light-years in diameter. Unlike many other globular clusters, the stars...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 6872: A Stretched Spiral Galaxy

    04/26/2016 11:24:02 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | Tuesday, April 26, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What makes this spiral galaxy so long? Measuring over 700,000 light years across from top to bottom, NGC 6872, also known as the Condor galaxy, is one of the most elongated barred spiral galaxies known. The galaxy's protracted shape likely results from its continuing collision with the smaller galaxy IC 4970, visible just above center. Of particular interest is NGC 6872's spiral arm on the upper left, as pictured here, which exhibits an unusually high amount of blue star forming regions. The light we see today left these colliding giants before the days of the dinosaurs, about 300 million...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Supernova Remnant Simeis 147: The Spaghetti Nebula

    04/26/2016 11:21:23 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | Monday, April 25, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It's easy to get lost following the intricate strands of the Spaghetti Nebula. A supernova remnant cataloged as Simeis 147 and Sh2-240, the glowing gas filaments cover nearly 3 degrees -- 6 full moons -- on the sky. That's about 150 light-years at the stellar debris cloud's estimated distance of 3,000 light-years. This sharp composite includes image data taken through a narrow-band filter to highlight emission from hydrogen atoms tracing the shocked, glowing gas. The supernova remnant has an estimated age of about 40,000 years, meaning light from the massive stellar explosion first reached Earth about 40,000 years ago....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M16: Pillars of Star Creation

    04/24/2016 7:22:41 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | Sunday, April 24, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Newborn stars are forming in the Eagle Nebula. This image, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995, shows evaporating gaseous globules (EGGs) emerging from pillars of molecular hydrogen gas and dust. The giant pillars are light years in length and are so dense that interior gas contracts gravitationally to form stars. At each pillars' end, the intense radiation of bright young stars causes low density material to boil away, leaving stellar nurseries of dense EGGs exposed. The Eagle Nebula, associated with the open star cluster M16, lies about 7000 light years away. The pillars of creation were imaged...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way in Moonlight

    04/23/2016 11:47:17 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | Saturday, April 23, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A waning crescent moon, early morning twilight, and Al Hamra's city lights on the horizon can't hide the central Milky Way in this skyscape from planet Earth. Captured in a single exposure, the dreamlike scene looks southward across the region's grand canyon from Jabal Shams (Sun Mountain), near the highest peak in Oman, on the Arabian Peninsula. Mist, moonlight, and shadows still play along the steep canyon walls. Dark rifts along the luminous band of the Milky Way are the galaxy's cosmic dust clouds. Typically hundreds of light-years distant, they obscure starlight along the galactic plane, viewed edge-on from...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 7635: The Bubble Nebula

    04/22/2016 6:42:44 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Friday, April 22, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Blown by the wind from a massive star, this interstellar apparition has a surprisingly familiar shape. Cataloged as NGC 7635, it is also known simply as The Bubble Nebula. Although it looks delicate, the 7 light-year diameter bubble offers evidence of violent processes at work. Above and left of the Bubble's center is a hot, O-type star, several hundred thousand times more luminous and around 45 times more massive than the Sun. A fierce stellar wind and intense radiation from that star has blasted out the structure of glowing gas against denser material in a surrounding molecular cloud. The...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Comet, the Owl, and the Galaxy

    04/21/2016 1:45:26 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Thursday, April 21, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Comet C/2014 S2 (PanSTARRS) poses for a Messier moment in this telescopic snapshot from April 18. In fact it shares the 1.5 degree wide field-of-view with two well-known entries in the 18th century comet-hunting astronomer's famous catalog. Outward bound and sweeping through northern skies just below the Big Dipper, the fading visitor to the inner Solar System was about 18 light-minutes from our fair planet. Dusty, edge-on spiral galaxy Messier 108 (upper right) is more like 45 million light-years away. A planetary nebula with an aging but intensely hot central star, the owlish Messier 97 is only about 12...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Galaxy Einstein Ring

    04/21/2016 1:43:17 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | Wednesday, April 20, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Can one galaxy hide behind another? Not in the case of SDP.81. Here the foreground galaxy, shown in blue in an image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, acts like a huge gravitational lens, pulling light from a background galaxy, shown in red in an image taken in radio waves by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), around it, keeping it visible. The alignment is so precise that the distant galaxy is distorted into part of a ring around the foreground galaxy, a formation known as an Einstein ring. Detailed analysis of the gravitational lens distortions indicate that a...
  • Hubble captures birthday bubble

    04/21/2016 10:07:08 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 7 replies
    phys.org ^ | April 21, 2016 | Provided by: ESA/Hubble Information Centre
    The Bubble Nebula, also known as NGC 7653, is an emission nebula located 11,000 light-years away. This stunning new image was observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to celebrate its 26th year in space. Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team =============================================================================================================== This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, released to celebrate Hubble's 26th year in orbit, captures in stunning clarity what looks like a gigantic cosmic soap bubble. The object, known as the Bubble Nebula, is in fact a cloud of gas and dust illuminated by the brilliant star within it. The vivid new portrait of this dramatic scene...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Andromeda Rising over Colombia

    04/19/2016 5:16:44 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | Tuesday, April 19, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What’s that rising over the hill? A galaxy. Never having seen a galaxy themselves, three friends of an industrious astrophotographer experienced an exhilarating night sky firsthand that featured not only the band of our Milky Way galaxy but also Milky Way's neighbor -- the Andromeda galaxy. Capturing the scene required careful pre-shot planning including finding a good site, waiting for good weather, balancing relative angular sizes with a zoom lens, managing ground lighting, and minimizing atmospheric light absorption. The calculated shot therefore placed the friends on a hill about 250 meters away and about 50 meters up. The featured...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The International Space Station over Earth

    04/18/2016 1:11:17 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | Monday, April 18, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The International Space Station is the largest object ever constructed by humans in space. The station perimeter extends over roughly the area of a football field, although only a small fraction of this is composed of modules habitable by humans. The station is so large that it could not be launched all at once -- it continues to be built piecemeal. To function, the ISS needs huge trusses, some over 15 meters long and with masses over 10,000 kilograms, to keep it rigid and to route electricity and liquid coolants. Pictured above, the immense space station was photographed from...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Asperatus Clouds Over New Zealand

    04/17/2016 4:59:47 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 25 replies
    NASA ^ | Sunday, April 17, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What kind of clouds are these? Although their cause is presently unknown, such unusual atmospheric structures, as menacing as they might seem, do not appear to be harbingers of meteorological doom. Known informally as Undulatus asperatus clouds, they can be stunning in appearance, unusual in occurrence, are relatively unstudied, and have even been suggested as a new type of cloud. Whereas most low cloud decks are flat bottomed, asperatus clouds appear to have significant vertical structure underneath. Speculation therefore holds that asperatus clouds might be related to lenticular clouds that form near mountains, or mammatus clouds associated with thunderstorms,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transit System

    04/16/2016 12:00:03 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | Saturday, April 16, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Want to take a fast trip to the edge of the Solar System? Consider a ride on a Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transit System (HERTS). The concept is currently being tested and it might take only 10 to 15 years to make the trip of over 100 Astronomical Units (15 billion kilometers). That's fast compared to the 35 years it took Voyager 1, presently humanity's most distant spacecraft, to approach the heliopause or outer boundary of the influence of the solar wind. HERTS would use an advanced electric solar sail that works by extending multiple, 20 kilometer or so long,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Mercury and Crescent Moon Set

    04/16/2016 11:57:44 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | Friday, April 15, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Innermost planet Mercury and a thin crescent Moon are never found far from the Sun in planet Earth's skies. Taken near dusk on April 8, this colorful evening skyscape shows them both setting toward the western horizon just after the Sun. The broad Tagus River and city lights of Lisbon, Portugal run through the foreground under the serene twilight sky. Near perigee or closest approach to Earth, the Moon's bright, slender crescent represents about 3 percent of the lunar disk in sunlight. Of course as seen from the Moon, a nearly full Earth would light up the lunar night,...
  • Never-before-seen galaxy spotted orbiting the Milky Way

    04/15/2016 7:44:48 AM PDT · by MtnClimber · 21 replies
    New Scientist ^ | 14 Apr, 2016 | Ken Croswell
    The galaxy’s empire has a new colony. Astronomers have detected a dwarf galaxy orbiting the Milky Way whose span stretches farther than nearly all other Milky Way satellites. It may belong to a small group of galaxies that is falling into our own. Giant galaxies like the Milky Way grew large when smaller galaxies merged, according to simulations. The simulations also suggest that whole groups of galaxies can fall into a single giant at the same time. The best examples in our cosmic neighbourhood are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, the Milky Way’s two brightest satellites, which probably orbit...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Full Venus and Crescent Moon Rise

    04/14/2016 6:02:26 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | Thursday, April 14, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Inner planet Venus and a thin crescent Moon are never found far from the Sun in planet Earth's skies. Taken near dawn on April 6, this timelapse composite shows them both rising just before the Sun. The mountaintop Teide Observatory domes on the fortunate island of Tenerife appear in silhouette against the twilight. In fact, the series of telephoto exposures follows the occultation of Venus by the Moon in three frames. Far from Earth in its orbit and in a nearly full phase, Venus was 96 percent illuminated. Near perigee or closest approach to Earth, the Moon's slender crescent...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Orion in Red and Blue

    04/13/2016 2:15:27 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Wednesday, April 13, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: When did Orion become so flashy? This colorful rendition of part of the constellation of Orion comes from red light emitted by hydrogen and sulfur (SII), and blue-green light emitted by oxygen (OIII). Hues on the featured image were then digitally reassigned to be indicative of their elemental origins -- but also striking to the human eye. The breathtaking composite was painstakingly composed from hundreds of images which took nearly 200 hours to collect. Pictured, Barnard's Loop, across the image bottom, appears to cradle interstellar constructs including the intricate Orion Nebula seen just right of center. The Flame Nebula...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Combined Solar Eclipse Corona from Earth and Space

    04/12/2016 7:33:57 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | Tuesday, April 12, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sometimes, a total eclipse is a good time to eye the Sun. Taking advantage of an unusual juxtaposition of Earth, Moon and Sun, the featured image depicts the total solar eclipse that occurred last month as it appeared -- nearly simultaneously -- from both Earth and space. The innermost image shows the total eclipse from the ground, with the central pupil created by the bright Sun covered by a comparatively dark Moon. Surrounding the blocked solar disk is the tenuous corona of Sun imaged in white light, easily visible from the ground only during an eclipse. Normally, this corona...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Comet and the Star Cluster

    04/11/2016 5:37:23 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | Monday, April 11, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Image Credit & Copyright: Comet Linear has become unexpectedly bright. The comet, discovered in 2000, underwent a 100-fold outburst just a week before it passed a mere 14 lunar distances from Earth late last month. The comet was captured here last week at about magnitude 6 -- just bright enough to be seen by the unaided eye -- passing in front of the distant globular star cluster M14. Comet 252/P LINEAR is one of a rare group of comets that vacillate between the Earth and Jupiter every 5 years. How the comet will evolve from here is unknown, but...
  • New Examination of Trans-Neptunian Objects Suggests Two Planets Lurk in Outer Solar System

    01/16/2015 11:06:16 AM PST · by lbryce · 20 replies
    From Quarks to Quasars ^ | January 16, 2015 | James Trosper
    Presently, our solar system is known to contain 4 fully-fledged rocky worlds: Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars; 2 ice-giants: Neptune and Uranus; 2 gas-giants, Saturn and Neptune; 5 dwarf-planets, Ceres. Pluto, Eris, MakeMake, Haumea; around 100 moons; and an unknowable number of comets, asteroids and minor planets. Indeed, we’ve only begun to understand the full scope of our local corner of our galaxy, and new information emerges on a monthly-basis, yet there a number of seemingly obvious things that remain unknown. For instance, long before Pluto’s existence was deduced, astronomers scoured the outer solar system in search of another large...
  • Astronomers are Predicting at Least Two More Large Planets in the Solar System

    01/15/2015 3:45:27 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 77 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on January 15, 2015 | Nancy Atkinson
    In their studies, the team analyzed the effects of what is called the ‘Kozai mechanism,’ which is related to the gravitational perturbation that a large body exerts on the orbit of another much smaller and further away object. They looked at how the highly eccentric comet 96P/Machholz1 is influenced by Jupiter (it will come near the orbit of Mercury in 2017, but it travels as much as 6 AU at aphelion) and it may “provide the key to explain the puzzling clustering of orbits around argument of perihelion close to 0° recently found for the population of ETNOs,” the team...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cassini Approaches Saturn

    04/10/2016 12:31:18 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | Sunday, April 10, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Cassini, a robot spacecraft launched in 1997 by NASA, became close enough in 2002 to resolve many rings and moons of its destination planet: Saturn. At that time, Cassini snapped several images during an engineering test. Several of those images were combined into the contrast-enhanced color composite featured here. Saturn's rings and cloud-tops are visible toward the image bottom, while Titan, its largest moon, is visible as the speck toward the top. When arriving at Saturn in July 2004, the Cassini orbiter began to circle and study the Saturnian system. A highlight was when Cassini launched the Huygens probe...
  • Planet Nine's profile fleshed out

    04/09/2016 7:29:13 PM PDT · by JimSEA · 52 replies
    BBC ^ | 4/8/2916 | Paul Rincon
    In January, researchers at Caltech in the US suggested a large, additional planet might be lurking in the icy outer reaches of the Solar System. Now, a team at the University of Bern in Switzerland has worked out what they say are upper and lower limits on how big, bright and cold it might be. The study has been accepted by the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. Prof Mike Brown and Dr Konstantin Batygin made their case for the existence of a ninth planet in our Solar System orbiting far beyond even the dwarf world Pluto. There are no direct observations...
  • Houston We've Got A Problem: NASA's Planet-Hunting Kepler Spacecraft Is In Emergency Mode

    04/09/2016 7:40:09 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 25 replies
    TechTimes ^ | 4/9/16 | Catherine Cabral-Isabedra
    Kepler spacecraft is in emergency mode, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said in a statement. Charlie Sobeck, Kepler and K2 mission manager at NASA's Ames Research Center announced that after a scheduled contact with mission operations engineers last April 7, it was discovered that Kepler is presently in emergency mode (EM), the spacecraft's lowest operational mode. The team is working on recovering from EM, as it consumes significant amount of fuel. Since the spacecraft is 75 million miles away from Earth, even with the speed of light, communication takes about 13 minutes for the message to travel from the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Green Flash of Spring

    04/09/2016 4:40:45 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | Saturday, April 09, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Taken on March 20 from the top of Haleakala on the isle of Maui, planet Earth, the first sunrise of northern spring is pictured in this vacation snapshot. The telephoto view from the volcanic caldera above a sea of clouds also captures an elusive green flash near the Sun's upper limb. Atmospheric layers with sharp temperature changes cause the colorful flash as the Sun rises behind a distant cloud bank. Refraction along sight lines through the layers creates multiple distorted images of the Sun, and for a moment, can visibly deflect shorter wavelength green light.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Lapland Northern Lights

    04/08/2016 7:03:26 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | Friday, April 08, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Early spring in the northern hemisphere is good season for aurora hunters. Near an equinox Earth's magnetic field is oriented to favor interactions with the solar wind that trigger the alluring glow of the northern lights. On March 28/29 the skies over Kaunispää Hill, Lapland, Finland did not disappoint. That night's expansive auroral curtains are captured in this striking panoramic view that covers a full 360 degrees. Local skywatchers were mesmerized by bright displays lasted throughout the dark hours, shimmering with colors easily visible to the naked eye.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Wolf-Lundmark-Melotte

    04/07/2016 5:43:07 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | Thursday, April 07, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Named for the three astronomers instrumental in its discovery and identification, Wolf - Lundmark - Melotte (WLM) is a lonely dwarf galaxy. Seen toward the mostly southern constellation Cetus, about 3 million light-years from the Milky Way, it is one of the most remote members of our local galaxy group. In fact, it may never have interacted with any other local group galaxy. Still, telltale pinkish star forming regions and hot, young, bluish stars speckle the isolated island universe. Older, cool yellowish stars fade into the small galaxy's halo, extending about 8,000 light-years across. This sharp portrait of WLM...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Auroras and the Magnetosphere of Jupiter

    04/06/2016 7:01:07 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Wednesday, April 06, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Jupiter has auroras. Like near the Earth, the magnetic field of our Solar System's largest planet compresses when impacted by a gust of charged particles from the Sun. This magnetic compression funnels charged particles towards Jupiter's poles and down into the atmosphere. There, electrons are temporarily excited or knocked away from atmospheric gases, after which, when de-exciting or recombining with atmospheric ions, auroral light is emitted. The featured illustration portrays the magnificent magnetosphere around Jupiter in action. In the inset image released last month, the Earth-orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory shows unexpectedly powerful X-ray light emitted by Jovian auroras, depicted...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cancri 55 e: Climate Patterns on a Lava World

    04/06/2016 6:57:37 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | Tuesday, April 05, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why might you want to visit super-earth Cancri 55 e? Its extremely hot climate would be a deterrent, and fresh lava flows might be common. Discovered in 2004, the planet Cancri 55 e has twice the diameter of our Earth and about 10 times Earth's mass. The planet orbits its 40 light-year distant Sun-like star well inside the orbit of Mercury, so close that it is tidally locked, meaning that it always keeps the same face toward the object it orbits -- like our Moon does as it orbits the Earth. Astronomers have recently measured temperature changes on this...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Lucid Dreaming

    04/04/2016 7:58:45 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | Monday, April 04, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Is this the real world? Or is it just fantasy? The truth started with a dream -- a dream that the spectacular Seljarlandsfoss waterfall in southern Iceland could be photographed with a backdrop of an aurora-filled sky. Soon after a promising space weather report, the visionary astrophotographer and his partner sprang into action. After arriving, capturing an image of the background sky, complete with a cool green aurora, turned out to be the easy part. The hard part was capturing the waterfall itself, for one reason because mist kept fogging the lens! Easy come, easy go -- it took...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Close-up of the Bubble Nebula

    04/03/2016 2:30:41 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | Sunday, April 03, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It's the bubble versus the cloud. NGC 7635, the Bubble Nebula, is being pushed out by the stellar wind of massive central star BD+602522. Next door, though, lives a giant molecular cloud, visible to the right. At this place in space, an irresistible force meets an immovable object in an interesting way. The cloud is able to contain the expansion of the bubble gas, but gets blasted by the hot radiation from the bubble's central star. The radiation heats up dense regions of the molecular cloud causing it to glow. The Bubble Nebula, featured here in scientifically mapped colors...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto's Bladed Terrain in 3D

    04/02/2016 12:31:05 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | Saturday, April 02, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Get out your red/blue glasses and gaze across a mountainous region informally known as Tartarus Dorsa. This scene sprawls some 300 kilometers (about 180 miles) across the Plutonian landscape. The color anaglyph creates a stereo view by combining parts of two images taken about 14 minutes apart during the New Horizons historic flyby of Pluto last July. Along with shadows near the terminator, or line between Pluto's dim day and night, the 3D perspective emphasizes the alignment of narrow, steep ridges. The region's remarkable bladed landforms typically extend 500 meters high and are 3 to 5 kilometers apart. Referring...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Europa: Discover Life Under the Ice [April Fool!]

    04/01/2016 6:59:54 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | Friday, April 01, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Looking for an interplanetary vacation destination? Consider a visit to Europa, one of the Solar System's most tantalizing moons. Ice-covered Europa follows an elliptical path in its 85 hour orbit around our ruling gas giant Jupiter. Heat generated from strong tidal flexing by Jupiter's gravity keeps Europa's salty subsurface ocean liquid all year round. That also means even in the absence of sunlight Europa has energy that could support simple life forms. Unfortunately, it is currently not possible to make reservations at restaurants on Europa, where you might enjoy a dish of the local extreme shrimp. But you can...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Big Dipper to Southern Cross

    03/31/2016 7:20:24 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Thursday, March 31, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Welcome to an equatorial night. This remarkable 24 frame night skyscape was captured from Maba Beach on the Indonesian island of Halmahera during the evening of March 4. Seen from a mere 0.7 degrees northern latitude, both famous northern and southern asterisms and navigational aids lie within the panoramic view. The Big Dipper is on the far left and Southern Cross at the far right. Beyond the fading campfire on that night a yellow-orange celestial triangle is set by Mars, Antares, and Saturn. It stands above the rising central Milky Way, or "Miett" in the local Maba language. Of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 6188 and NGC 6164

    03/30/2016 12:04:46 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Wednesday, March 30, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Fantastic shapes lurk in clouds of glowing gas in the giant star forming region NGC 6188. The emission nebula is found about 4,000 light years away near the edge of a large molecular cloud unseen at visible wavelengths, in the southern constellation Ara. Massive, young stars of the embedded Ara OB1 association were formed in that region only a few million years ago, sculpting the dark shapes and powering the nebular glow with stellar winds and intense ultraviolet radiation. The recent star formation itself was likely triggered by winds and supernova explosions, from previous generations of massive stars, that...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NASA's Curiosity Rover at Namib Dune (360 View)

    03/29/2016 9:40:37 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Tuesday, March 29, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Point or tilt to see a spectacular view of Mars visible to the Curiosity rover last December. In the foreground, part of Curiosity itself is visible, including its dusty sundial. Starting about seven meters back, the robotic rover is seen posing in front of a 5-meter tall dark sand dune named Namib, one of many dunes that span Bagnold field. Further in the distance is the summit of Mt. Sharp, the 5.5-kilometer peak at the center of 150-km wide Gale crater, the crater where Curiosity landed a few years ago. The featured composite spans a full 360-degrees around by...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Orion's Belt and Sword over Teide's Peak

    03/29/2016 9:38:12 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | Monday, March 28, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The southern part of Orion, the famous constellation and mythical hunter, appears quite picturesque posing here over a famous volcano. Located in the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa, the snow-peaked Teide is one of the largest volcanoes on Earth. Lights from a group planning to summit Teide before dawn are visible below the volcano's peak. In this composite of exposures taken from the same location one night last month, the three iconic belt stars of Orion are seen just above the peak, while the famous Orion Nebula and the rest of Orion's sword are visible beyond...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 6357: Cathedral to Massive Stars

    03/27/2016 9:44:04 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Sunday, March 27, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How massive can a normal star be? Estimates made from distance, brightness and standard solar models had given one star in the open cluster Pismis 24 over 200 times the mass of our Sun, making it one of the most massive stars known. This star is the brightest object located just above the gas front in the featured image. Close inspection of images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, however, have shown that Pismis 24-1 derives its brilliant luminosity not from a single star but from three at least. Component stars would still remain near 100 solar masses, making...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Solstice to Equinox Cubed

    03/26/2016 10:21:05 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | Saturday, March 26, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This 3 month long exposure packed the days from December 22, 2015 through March 20 into a box. Dubbed a solargraph, the unconventional, unfolded picture was recorded with a pinhole camera made from a cube-shaped container, its sides lined with photographic paper. Fixed to a single spot for the entire exposure, the simple camera recorded the Sun's path through Hungarian skies. Each day a glowing trail was burned into the photosensitive paper. From short and low, to long and high, the trails follow the progression from winter solstice to spring equinox. Of course, dark gaps in the daily sun...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Close Comet and the Milky Way

    03/25/2016 2:04:22 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | Friday, March 25, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Comet 252P/Linear's lovely greenish coma is easy to spot in this expansive southern skyscape. Visible to the naked eye from the dark site near Flinders, Victoria, Australia, the comet appears tailless. Still, its surprisingly bright coma spans about 1 degree, posed here below the nebulae, stars, and dark rifts of the Milky Way. The five panels used in the wide-field mosaic were captured after moonset and before morning twilight on March 21. That was less than 24 hours from the comet's closest approach, a mere 5.3 million kilometers from our fair planet. Sweeping quickly across the sky because it...
  • Scientist Reveals Propulsion Technology That Could Blast Probe To Mars In 30 Minutes

    03/24/2016 2:41:15 PM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 88 replies
    Headlines & Global News ^ | February 29, 2016 | Chris Loterina
    The travel time from Earth to Mars using current space flight technologies is estimated to be 9 months. Last week, an innovative concept was proposed which claims to reduce the time that will be spent for Mars travel to merely three days through so-called photonic propulsion technology. But a new proposal threatens to radically shorten this period to an astounding 30 minutes. The idea was revealed by Phillip Lubin, who is a physics professor at the University of California Santa Barbara. Lubin was also responsible for the photonic propulsion technology proposal. This time, however, he identified the use of high-powered...
  • Astrophysicists detect ultra-fast winds near supermassive black hole

    03/24/2016 12:44:16 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 22 replies
    phys.org ^ | March 21, 2016 | Provided by: York University
    Artist's illustration of turbulent winds of gas swirling around a black hole. Some of the gas is spiraling inward, but some is being blown away. Credit: NASA, and M. Weiss (Chandra X -ray Center) ============================================================================================================================================== New research led by astrophysicists at York University has revealed the fastest winds ever seen at ultraviolet wavelengths near a supermassive black hole. "We're talking wind speeds of 20 per cent the speed of light, which is more than 200 million kilometres an hour. That's equivalent to a category 77 hurricane," says Jesse Rogerson, who led the research as part of his PhD thesis in...